Investing in our rural workforce: transforming the support provided to early graduate Physiotherapists

Mrs Robyn Gill1,2, Mrs Bronya Wingrove1, Mrs Joanne Lawson1

1Country Health SA Local Health Network, , Australia, 2Flinders University of SA, Bedford Park, Australia


Retention of rural Allied Health Professionals (AHP) is a recognised challenge for health care organisations across Australia. Specifically, how do we retain our early graduates in our rural workforce?

Previous studies have considered the ideal factors for providing support for AHP early graduates in rural practice. Emerging strongly as one of the main elements for early graduate’s decision to remain working in rural communities is support from their employing organisation. This includes access to mentoring and support networks, opportunities for professional development, and gaining a broader understanding of rural practice. Having opportunities to allow a supported transition to professional practice is deemed critical for retention of rural AHP early graduates.

This presentation describes and discusses an early graduate support program aimed to enhance retention of Physiotherapists working within regional South Australia. The program is led by Senior Physiotherapists within Country Health SA Local Health Network (CHSALHN).

The main aims of the program are to provide regular, discipline specific, time protected support during the first year of work. This is achieved by establishing a network for Physiotherapy graduates and providing a regular forum for discussion and reflection of early experiences of professional practice. The mode of delivery is monthly teleconferences, with supplementary resources and contact, over the first year of working within CHSALHN.

The Physiotherapists involved in the early graduate support program during 2017 were surveyed to provide feedback about the program. Feedback was positive and warrants ongoing development, expansion and continued provision of the CHSALHN Physiotherapy early graduate support program.


Robyn is a Senior Clinical Educator in Physiotherapy for Country Health South Australia Local Health Network (CHSALHN), building placement capacity and supporting Physiotherapy clinical placements within CHSALHN. Her role encompasses providing professional development opportunities and early graduate support for Physiotherapists working for CHSALHN.
Robyn has been an educator of Physiotherapy students for over 25 years.
Areas of interest are Rural/ Remote Health; Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy; Physiotherapy education; Clinical Simulation; blended learning.


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